It's Past Time for Corporations to Abandon the World Economic Forum
AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
It's Past Time for Corporations to Abandon the World Economic Forum
AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
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And so, after two years of lockdowns required them to do their plotting by Zoom, the self-appointed Masters of the Universe have met again in Davos, Switzerland, presumably in a castle shaped like the skull of a vicious animal, to run our lives.

That’s not hyperbole. (Well, the part about the castle is both a bit of hyperbole and a travesty against those who remember better than I the details of early ‘80s cartoons.) Thousands of corporate CEOs, politicians and other billionaires itching to run the world have come together for the 2022 retreat of the World Economic Forum (WEF). The WEF, of course, is run by Klaus Schwab, a combination of ‘80s Lex Luthor and Dr. No, who declared at the opening event that “the future is being built by us.”

The odds are very good that neither you nor most American shareholders want anything to do with the future for which Schwab and the WEF are calling. And in fact, that future is so antithetical to the purpose and meaning of corporate governance and even existence, at least in the United States, that it almost certainly violates the fiduciary duties of Larry Fink of BlackRock and Brian Moynihan of Bank of America and Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan and Albert Bourla of Pfizer and the other WEFicionados of high capital even to belong to the WEF in their official capacities, much less carry the pernicious ideas of the WEF home with them to try to force them on other American corporations and the American people generally.

The support of this point is overwhelming, with a number of examples following. But the first one seems dispositive all by itself.

The WEF has long supported a future in which you’ll own nothing, and be happy about it. As an initial matter it is both notable and relevant that no members of the WEF appears to have abandoned their own property ownership, or even made any significant effort to limit themselves to some reasonably constrained level of stuff. (They might use the average wealth of their home nation as a guide, for instance, but none have.) This suggests that the WEF looks forward to a future in which its members own pretty much everything, while the rest of us own nothing, and like it – in the sense that we’ll “take it, and we’ll like it, dammit.” But for corporate executives that position represents the crassest and most illegal pecuniary self-dealing: seeking to own everything while stripping the vast majority of their shareholders (and everyone else) of anything at all.

Still more to the point, the basic fact of the publicly traded American corporation is that of ownership and investment of capital. Without the broad ownership of property there can be no publicly traded companies. Supporting an organization that seeks a future in which the vast run of people are stripped of ownership means the effective end of these corporations – by the means of taking away the ownership interests that it is the first legal duty of corporate executives to protect, advance and render profitable. American corporate executives legally can support no such position or organization, full stop.

Given the WEF’s position on broad property ownership, its support of “stakeholder capitalism” reveals the true meaning of that phrase more than anything else could. It is no type of capitalism at all; rather, it is an explicit plan to reduce everyone (except WEF oligarchs) to the level of non-owner “stakeholders” whose interests and goals can be advanced or ignored exactly insofar as they accord with CEOs’ (and the WEF’s) personal policy preferences.

A quick review of other highlights of the WEF’s agenda reveals why that move is so necessary: neither most shareholders nor most stakeholders (if the latter’s views were honestly determined rather than sockpuppeted) support much of anything that the WEF wants. It is calling for a transhumanist Fourth Industrial Revolution, “a new chapter in human development, enabled by extraordinary technology advances,” which “are merging the physical, digital and biological worlds” in a way that’s “forcing us to rethink how countries develop, how organizations create value and even what it means to be human.” This revolution will include an “internet of bodies” that would result in a “network of human bodies and data through connected sensors” with the potential to “modify human bodies and behavior.” This possible future left Pfizer’s Bourla fairly panting in excitement: “[i]magine the implications of that – the compliance!” It doesn’t require stepping too far out on a limb to think that most shareholders and stakeholders think a network that allows Al Bourla to change their behavior to force their compliance with whatever the WEF might next want to accomplish is a really bad idea.

They seem especially likely to reach that conclusion once they know what else the WEF has in store for them. (That is, if any of us are allowed to let them know; already during this WEF junket a leader of the once and current penal colony of Australia has called for the restriction of free speech in order to avoid divergence from the government (or WEF) line, declaring that “[w]e are finding ourselves in a place where we have increasing polarization everywhere, and everything feels binary when it doesn't need to be - so I think we're going to have to think about a recalibration of a whole range of human rights that are playing out online - from freedom of speech, to be free from online violence. Or the right of data protection, to the right of child dignity.”)

The WEF supports the reintroduction of formal racism, sexism and orientation discrimination according to the dictates of “equity” theory. It seeks to reduce us to eating bugs; to having it limit the amount of carbon we can use; to denying us access to credit and even to public participation unless we tow its political line. And that’s all before you get past the animal-skull teeth into the foyer of the WEF.

Very few people support this, of course – except, it surely appears, WEF members. And as exactly none of them have stepped up to personally lead the way in bug eating or submitting to Bourla’s internet of bodies or constricting their carbon use even so much as to give up their private planes and demand that the WEF meet forever by Zoom to avoid the rankest of hypocrisy, the suspicion becomes ineradicable: just about no one would support any of this – if they thought it applied to them, which the WEFfers manifestly don’t.

If the WEF weren’t terrifyingly real, it would be too absurd to make up. But because it is real, terrifying and antithetical to everything that a corporate executive is legally obliged to support and to do, membership or even support for the WEF by corporate executives fundamentally violates their fiduciary duties.

Scott Shepard is a fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and Director of its Free Enterprise Project.

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